Civil rights groups and election officials fielded thousands of reports of voting irregularities across the country Tuesday, with voters complaining of broken machines, long lines and untrained poll workers improperly challenging Americans’ right to vote. The loudest of those complaints came from Georgia, where issues of race, ballot access and election fairness have fueled an acrimonious governor’s contest between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams, a former state lawmaker, would be the nation’s first black female governor, while Kemp, the secretary of state, who oversees elections, has faced accusations of trying to suppress the minority vote. In one downtown Atlanta precinct, voters waited three hours to cast ballots after local election officials initially sent only three voting machines to serve more than 3,000 registered voters. In suburban Gwinnett County, the wait surpassed four hours as election officials opened the polls only to discover that their voting machines were not working at all, voters said.
Both locations serve predominantly African American voters, feeding worries among some voters that specific groups were being disenfranchised amid signs of record turnout for a midterm election.
“Look at the people here,” said Gabe Okoye, chairman of the Gwinnett County Democratic Party, as he watched mostly black voters enter and leave the voting location. “See the demography of these voters.”
“If you’re going to play tricks anywhere, you’re going to do it here,” he added, noting the importance of the populous county to the final vote count.
… On Tuesday, election officials in states including Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Indiana and Georgia extended voting hours to accommodate long lines at polling locations. In Atlanta, some precincts were being kept open as late as 10 p.m. Some states, including North Dakota, were also contending with low supplies of ballots, and voters were still in line Tuesday evening.